The Lions and the Warriors both scored early wins on the final day of the 4-Day Franchise Series, while the Dolphins and the Knights were frustrated by the weather as both pushed for a win against the odds.
Dolphins vs Knights
Rain and bad light ultimately proved to be the main winner as the 4-Day Domestic Series encounter between the Dolphins and Knights ended in a draw at the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday. The inclement weather, which led to no play on day two and just over 50 overs squeezed in on day three, again briefly returned on the final day, allowing for only 72 overs to be sent down.
To their credit, both teams tried to initiate a result, before the visitors finished the game on 181 for three in pursuit of a target of 295. The Central Franchise resumed at the start of play on 174 for six, but three wickets in 15 balls early on by Keith Dudgeon (3-32) gave the Dolphins hope.
However, Rudi Second, who ended unbeaten on 80 (138 balls, 11×4), found support in a stubborn Tshepo Ntuli (one not out) to frustrate the home side, before they declared on 206 for nine.
The hosts then attacked their way to 146 for three declared, thanks to quick-fire half-centuries by Sarel Erwee (57 off 72 balls, 10×4, 1×6) and Khaya Zondo (59 not out off 45 balls, 10×4).
With only 35 overs available, the Dolphins needed to strike, and strike early too. And they did that through Ethan Bosch (3-44) after he removed Grant Mokoena (2) in the first over, but a partnership of 126 between Raynard van Tonder (60 off 89 balls, 6×4) and Keegan Petersen (71 not out off 92 balls, 7×4) ended all hope of a result.
Play was also halted in between due to poor light as the weather again had its say, while right-hander Petersen, one of the stars of the season, went past 5 000 first-class career runs.
M Ackerman miss times one and is caught at mid wicket, he departs for 1 (5). @KhayaZondo73 is the next batsmen to the crease. @Hollywoodbets Dolphins 42-2, we lead by 190 runs. #DOLvKNI #DolphinsCricket 🐬 #4DaySeries pic.twitter.com/euoKzbjH6O
— Dolphins Cricket (@DolphinsCricket) January 17, 2019
Dolphins 354-7 decl (MJ Ackerman 137, S Muthusamy 89, K Zondo 34, G Roelofsen 32, E Bosch 22 not out; T Mnyaka 3-71, ZC Qwabe 2-46, T Ntuli 2-111) & 146-3 decl (K Zondo 59 not out, SJ Erwee 57; PE Kruger 1-8, T Mnyaka 1-14, ZC Qwabe 1-53)
Knights 206-9 decl (RS Second 80 not out, SC van Schalkwyk 35, TG Mokoena 27, AGS Gous 27; E Bosch 4-82, KJ Dudgeon 3-32) & 181-3 (KD Petersen 71 not out, R van Tonder 60, RS Second 32 not out; E Bosch 3-44)
Cape Cobras vs Warriors
A blistering 91-run unbroken partnership between Jon-Jon Smuts and Sinethemba Qeshile ended any lingering doubts on the part of the Warriors and helped them seize a pivotal six-wicket victory over the Cape Cobras on Thursday.
Defeat for the log-leading hosts, coupled with the Highveld Lions winning the Jukskei derby against the Titans, threw the title race wide open.
With two rounds remaining, the Cobras, whose first-innings batting display was their letdown at Newlands, saw their near 20-point advantage slashed to slightly more than one-and-a-half following a crucial loss against the impressive Warriors.
The Eastern Cape franchise started the final day on 109 for three, needing a further 97 for victory. They were dealt an early blow when Lesiba Ngoepe became the fourth victim of Dane Piedt (4-68), to leave the away side on 115 for four. That strike would have given the home side hope, but Smuts and Qeshile put their foot on the gas to take the game away from the Cobras. The pair scored at 6.42 to the over as they finished the game in a further 14.1 overs.
The captain ended unbeaten on 70 off 73 balls (10 fours, 1 six), while young Qeshile plundered 50 off 49 deliveries (9 fours) to complete a commanding win. The result also kept alive the Warriors’ slim title hopes – they are now just over 27 points behind the leaders.
Cape Cobras 239 (JF Smith 74, RK Kleinveldt 42, DG Bedingham 43, K Verreynne 31, SM Khomari 20; BD Walters 3-51, GA Stuurman 3-88, L Sipamla 2-57, SR Harmer 2-32) & 309 (DG Bedingham 90, JF Smith 69, K Verreynne 56, PJ Malan 48; SR Harmer 7-89, L Sipamla 2-66)
Warriors 343 (CN Ackermann 78, S Qeshile 71 not out, JT Smuts 38, LC Ngoepe 33, SR Harmer 30, MY Vallie 20; JF Smith 4-62, M Nabe 3-63) & 206-4 (JT Smuts 70 not out, S Qeshile 50 not out, GL Cloete 36, EM Moore 35; DL Piedt 4-68)
Warriors won by 6 wickets
Lions vs Titans
Nandre Burger ended with a career-best five-for as the Highveld Lions wasted little time polishing off defending champions the Titans to win their derby clash in record fashion at Willowmoore Park in Benoni.
The seam bowler claimed five for 36 in 14.4 overs to complete an emphatic innings and a 239 run victory that was not only a record, but also saw the gap at the competition summit reduced to a just over one-and-a-half points.
This after the leading Cape Cobras were stunned by the Warriors in Cape Town to leave the competition wide open with two rounds remaining.
The Lions, too, played a role with a hugely impressive showing in the East Rand, built around a double century by Man-of-the-Match Nicky van den Bergh (217 not out) and 197 by Dominic Hendricks.
Most of their work had already been done on the first three days, with just five wickets required to complete the job on day four. The hosts had resumed on 95 for five, but the tail offered little resistance.
Debutant Wandile Makwetu was dismissed for a duck without the overnight score moving, with the former South Africa U19 wicketkeeper/captain cleaned up by Burger.
Henry Davids (24) was next to fall at the hands of the same bowler with their score on 110, before Corbin Bosch (7) was trapped leg before wicket by Malusi Siboto (2-22). When Tshepo Moreki (1) became Burger’s fifth victim, the game was over, as Chris Morris was absent due to injury and could not bat, which meant that the Titans had been dismissed in 51.4 overs.
The result was the biggest ever victory for the Lions in their history, and the third biggest since the inception of franchise cricket in 2004-05.
Titans 229 (CH Morris 97, F Behardien 28; PWA Mulder 4-55, N Burger 3-57; BC Fortuin 1-32, MP Siboto 1-33, BE Hendricks 1-50) & 125 (F Behardien 41, H Davids 24; N Burger 5-36, MP Siboto 2-22)
Lions 593-5 decl (NJ van den Bergh 217 not out, DA Hendricks 197, K Rapulana 75, PWA Mulder 40; H Davids 2-129, TL Moreki 2-168)
Lions won by an innings and 239 runs
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images